Friday, April 19, 2013
Corvo's hanging up his mask and sword for the next two slices of Dishonored DLC. The Knife of Dunwall is the first of two chapters and picks up with the legendary assassin Daud, from the opening moments of the main game to the ensuing events six months later, in which he seeks redemption for his actions, whereas the second part, The Brigmore Witches will presumably tie Daud's story up in a neat little bow.
While Dunwall City Trials was a neat diversion from Dishonored's narrative, presenting players with a variety of challenges to complete with no story bits to speak of, it didn't really fulfil the expectations we had for a Dishonored expansion. This is where The Knife of Dunwall comes in. It's a proper slice of story-driven content, told entirely from the perspective of Daud (expertly voiced by Michael Madsen), the gravel-voiced assassin who framed Corvo for the murder of the Empress. It's precisely the kind of thing we want from Dishonored.
A mystery wrapped in a riddle, The Knife of Dunwall opens with Daud encountering The Outsider, who simply presents you with a name – 'Delilah' – which is supposedly the key to Daud's atonement. Daud sets about uncovering the truth behind 'Delilah', determined to discover who or what it is. As a narrative MacGuffin, 'Delilah' serves as the perfect impetus for Daud's story, providing just enough mystery and intrigue to keep you hooked throughout.
Of course, it helps that The Knife of Dunwall is also comprised of three new missions that are of a similar size and scope to those found in the main game itself, which for the price isn't too shabby. Just like Dishonored's main single-player story, The Knife of Dunwall consists of missions that offer the same level of choice and varying approaches that made Arkane's game such an unbridled triumph in the first place. Take the first mission, infiltrating Rothwild's Slaughterhouse as an example, which by our count boasted at least four different paths for simply entering the facility itself.
As you'd expect from Dishonored, there's a variety of ways to tackle each mission, with stealth or balls-out combat being the primary two choices. With the new arc mines and choke dust gadgets in Daud's arsenal, there are also fresh methods for surreptitiously executing or distracting foes, playing to the strengths of either an aggressive or more covert approach.
You can strap an arc mine to a rat for instance, and send it scurrying into a crowd of unassuming guards, zapping them to ashes. Get into a spot of bother with the Overseers or the violent Hatters gang on the other hand, and chucking a choke dust grenade in their faces is the perfect cover for a hasty escape.
Like Corvo, Daud also has a variety of arcane spells, including the trusty Blink, which also possesses the added bonus of slowing time when you're not moving. In truth, this aspect of Daud's Blink is a bit useless, although it can buy you valuable breathing space during a fraught combat encounter. Daud is also able to summon an assassin out of the ether to temporarily fight for him, which can also be handy on occasion.
Upgrading and augmenting all of Daud's abilities demands Bone Charms and Runes just like Corvo, and he's every bit as versatile as his masked counterpart. Daud's Void Gaze also takes the place of Corvo's Dark Vision, and must be upgraded to include the positions of enemies, their cones of sight and highlighted items, otherwise it simply acts as a Bone Charm and Rune detector, like Corvo's beating heart device.
With Daud's female second in command , Billie Lurk popping up intermittently to offer advice, you'll stalk the rooftops, cobbled streets and dark alleyways of Dunwall once again, soaking up every ounce of its intoxicating atmosphere. Packed with incidental details and secondary quests that you might not see the first time around, The Knife of Dunwall is also a DLC that you'll probably want to play through twice too.
It's likely that the achievements will also motivate you to go back for seconds too, as there's one for completing the DLC in high chaos and one for completing it in low chaos. A stealthy run through and an all-out brutal killing spree run through are equally enjoyable, so why not bag both achievements?
There's also a few neat ones in there too, like buying every helpful favor on offer from Daud's network of spies and corrupt merchants, or performing an aerial kill from the Empress statue. Trust us, that's a tough one. The obligatory 'kill no one' and 'alert no one' achievements are in there too for good measure.
Where Dunwall City Trials proved disappointing for some Dishonored fans, The Knife of Dunwall ticks all of the right boxes. It expands the story in exactly the way you'd hope, without stepping on the toes of Corvo's main narrative too much. Clever nods to Corvo's timeline are thrown in to keep you abreast of the assassin's movements, with posters of the errant, fugitive assassin pasted all over Dunwall, while announcements over the city's loudspeakers issue warnings pertaining to the Empress' framed murderer.
Add it all up, and The Knife of Dunwall is an essential piece of Dishonored DLC. It might not seem exceptionally long at roughly 3-5 hours, but factor in replay value and the fact that it's more Dishonored, and it's nigh-on impossible to say no to this. Here's hoping the second, concluding chapter in Daud's story, The Brigmore Witches, is just as sharp and shiny as this.